Immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas detained by US Border Patrol at TX airport

Jose Antonio Vargas takes center-stage on a 2012 Time Magazine cover.
Jose Antonio Vargas takes center-stage on a 2012 Time Magazine cover.

Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) — journalist, documentary-filmmaker and immigrant rights’ activist — has been handcuffed and detained by US Border Patrol while he was visiting at the McAllen-Miller International airport. Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who revealed his status as an undocumented immigrant in a landmark 2011 New York Times essay, was visiting Texas in relation to the ongoing political debate over Central American child refugees.

Vargas was attempting to attend a screening of his documentary “Documented”. However, because Vargas was brought into the country without documentation as a minor, he was armed with only a Phillipines passport (and a pocket copy of the US Constitution) as his identification papers. Vargas had entered Texas unaware that US Border Patrol sets many immigration checkpoints in border states, specifically to check travelers who are not actually crossing any borders with the U.S, and that he might be unable to leave the area.Shortly after trying to pass through security, Vargas was handcuffed and detained. Reports from “Define American”, the non-profit immigrants rights group Vargas helped found, are that Vargas is currently undergoing questioning.

Vargas tweeted this picture of his ID moment before being detained by US Border Patrol.
Vargas tweeted this picture of his ID moment before being detained by US Border Patrol.

This video, posted by The Monitor, shows Vargas being questioned by security, shortly before he was handcuffed.

“Define American” has noted that the network of checkpoints the US Border Patrol establishes in border states like Texas effectively trap undocumented immigrants from being able to freely move. In their press release, they write:

“Our undocumented community along the border is trapped within its own country, unable to leave and surrounded by checkpoints. It’s immoral that people aren’t free to move around the country they know as home because of a system that seeks to criminalize them.”

“United We Dream will continue to demand a vast expansion of DACA, one that eliminates age-caps that have made Jose Antonio and many other Dreamers ineligible, and one that includes the parents of Dreamers and U.S. citizens.”

Luis Maldonado, a DACA-mented Dreamer from McAllen said,

“There are many people in my community, family and close friends of mine that haven’t left McAllen in years for fearing detention at one of the numerous checkpoints. I know firsthand the benefits of DACA, the simple right to drive to San Antonio without fearing family separation, and I want thousands more in my community to feel the same way.”

Right now, activists are trying to raise awareness about Vargas’ detention; they are circulating a petition seeking support for Vargas. I strongly encourage you to sign this petition and take a stand with Jose Antonio Vargas.

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